Johnny Depp Gives Death A Big, Inspiring Bear Hug in ‘The Professor’
Photo: Saban Films
Johnny Depp has been a lot of things in a lot of movies, but no performance outweighs his simple portrayals of humanity (that is to say, he’s better without much makeup.) His most recent role of a dying man in The Professor (spoilers ahead) depicts a smug college teacher who isn’t afraid of death nearly as much as he is moved to embrace it while he can, all while motivating the young intellectual in us all to seize our lives (and leave the “water cooler whores” behind).
Elizabeth Gilbert recently passed on some advice she got from Anne Patchett after losing a loved one:
You’ll have an infinite amount of time to belong to the eternal with her, but you only have this tiny bit of time to have this experience as a human being on Earth. Don’t lose it by trying to merge with her now. Merge with this, what’s here, the people who are here, what’s in front of you. The weird, strange, heartbreaking thing of being mortal. Do that.”
Those thoughts echo in Depp’s movie as he lays waste to anything (and anyone) that seems to not add to the quality of his remaining time. He doesn’t make a lot of grand gestures, but more tries to enrich his own life and the lives of those around him, which is a lesson unto us quasi-healthy humans. The end of the movie alone is worth the 90-minute run time, in which you’ll get sage advice from Hollywood’s greatest treasures, along with countless one-liners about not giving in to mediocrity like the other 98 percent of the world.
Here are our biggest takeaways from The Professor, keeping in mind there are some spoilers.
Don't Waste Your Time With the Wrong People
Hanging out with the wrong crowd is a type of waste you cannot recycle into anything useful. So many of us have a fear of missing out with what other people are doing, but the truth is that some of the best moments are created by dedicating yourself to your craft and taking what you learn from those experiences, the books you read and the mistakes you make into a conversation where you actually have something of value to share. And if you're with the right crowd, they'll have their own experiences to share, maybe even some sage advice to go with yours.
Don't Succumb to Self-Made Prisons
You might think you need to be married and have kids because it's what you were taught. It's not for everyone. You also don't have to be anything else that anyone, even yourself, has told you. Nobody is expecting you to do anything, so enjoy your life and the right thing to do to celebrate it will present itself. Maybe you'll write a book, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll do something really cool nobody has ever thought of (unlikely), but there's no shame in simply enjoying everything this world has to offer and not letting these self-imposed prisons bar you from happiness.
For Heaven's Sake, Have a Drink
You don't have to be a meandering alcoholic to be happy, not like Depp's character in the film who has a lot to process, but there's no harm in working hard and then celebrating your hard-won victories (or failures, if you're lucky). You can reflect on the day, think about all the ways you screwed up and then make a plan for how you'll do better tomorrow. Right before you slip blissfully into your slumber and forget it all only to repeat the same mistakes again. Cheers.
Swim Into Unchartered Waters
While we wouldn't recommend over-indulging in the unchartered waters of Depp's "Pirates" movies, this film is a quick and fleeting reminder that sometimes we must embrace the weirdness of life, especially spontaneity. To worry about what other people think of you is a waste of everyone's time; you'll all be dead soon enough. Might as well make it enjoyable and maybe even perhaps interesting for others to watch.
Live A Life Story Worth Telling
Today might be last, but you could very well be here for another 80 years. No point in wasting it worrying about which it is and what lies in between. Simply do what you know you should be doing and do it to the best of your ability. Work hard, play hard, love harder and live to tell the story as long as you can. And if you did your job well, there'll be someone left behind who loves you and misses you enough to continue to tell your story long after you've gone.